Taking the Christmas decorations down is never as enjoyable or exciting as putting them up, and I usually dread that job. For one thing, the items usually expand (like I do) and don’t quite fit back into the places from which they came! Another thing is that I don’t always remember how I had it before the holidays, so I feel like I’m putting together a puzzle that I haven’t seen before. That happens probably because I really like to put the Christmas things out, and in my excitement to change everything to red and green, when I pick up the every day items, I’m very likely to put them under the bed or up in a closet or down in the basement, never to be thought of again.
I told my daughter-in-law last week that there might be a day in March when I felt there would be time to put Christmas away, so when the gift of time was given via a school snow day, I knew what I must do.
I’m usually very ready to get things back in order, but this holiday season has been such a perfect one that I feel a little nostalgic about putting things away, and I’m catching myself thinking, “I’ll leave a little touch of Christmas up for a while.” Just the fireplace, I think, because the live wreath is still pretty, the poinsettias are healthy, the nativity set is always current, and I love to see my children’s stockings hanging in place. Could it really be that two of those stockings are already 40 years old and the other almost is?
This holiday season all of my children and grandchildren were healthy and were here and enjoyed each other immensely. Our oldest grandson, Jeffrey, who has spent the last two Christmases in rehab, not only was here, but he is a brand new person and brought his wonderful fiancée with him. Our youngest grandson, Bo’s adoption was finalized after 20 months of waiting, we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, we got to see our long-ago Saturday Night Group friends, and Sunshine School moved into the most beautiful and well-equipped pre-school building in the world. We are so blessed.
No one can take away those wonderful memories; taking decorations down will not diminish the warmth in my heart, but I just want to leave a little touch of this Christmas for as long as I can.
The things that I wish everyone would leave is the beautiful candles in the windows. I love to see inviting windows in a home. Open blinds and a light or lamp shining through blinds brings such a warm and pleasant feeling to me. I am a “house-watcher”, and I always have been. I love interesting architecture, nice landscaping, and good symmetry, but most of all I love to see a house enjoyed by its family, one that shows personal touches that speak love. On the other hand, some houses scream unhappiness and unconcern and seem cold and forbidding. I love to see homes with open blinds and a lighted lamp in the window------it’s like soul food to me-----welcoming and warm. On the contrary, the most beautiful homes without openness and light cause my mood to plummet. The open blinds are the house’s smile. A smiling house makes me happy.
I know from experience that there are seasons of sadness in a person’s life, just as there are seasons of celebration. Both are part of life; both teach us lessons; the sad seasons often teach us to cherish the happy times. We must never let the “what-ifs” drown out the beauty and reality of the present moment. Some people seem to live by the credo that I mustn’t point out the happy moments, or they’ll go away. Thanking God for blessings should be as much a part of life as breathing. Capture the happy moment wherever you find it and celebrate it. Christmas before last, Jerry and Emily’s family and I spent Christmas Day at Cleveland, Ohio’s Teen Challenge ; dinner was brought in by some local people, including a Christian motorcycle gang that wanted to bring cheer (and Pepsi, which wasn’t usually allowed) to those of us trying to celebrate Christmas in this unusual environment. The center is located only a few hundred yards from the shore of Lake Erie, and that day was dark, windy and unbelievably cold. The large room, reserved for the Christmas party was warm, well lighted and filled with grateful families. Laughter and praise filled the air, and there were hugs, tears and expressions of love throughout the room. The food was cooked by three guys who never dreamed they would be in a kitchen cooking, especially on Christmas Day. The food was not fancy, but it was good and helped to provide a setting for a lot of grateful family members who had not seen loved ones for several months.
That is a day I am thankful for because the dedication of those at Teen Challenge have played a large part of helping to create the deep happiness we have today. Christmas at home surrounded by family who love each other and appreciate the true meaning of Christmas is worth shouting about and celebrating. If I get much happier, I might just open the windows as well as the blinds! I hope that we can all carry with us into our world a little touch of Christmas all year long. (You can reach Pat Bryson at firstname.lastname@example.org.)